The head of Pirelli has responded to safety concerns raised by Lewis Hamilton over the removal of tyre blankets.
In a push to be more sustainable, Formula 1 has focused on the use of tyre warmers and is looking to ban them outright from the 2024 season onwards.
Teams have already seen the maximum temperature allowed dropped as well as a decrease in permitted time when using them but Pirelli and Formula 1 plans to do more.
Despite the good intentions behind F1’s plans, it has been met with some lukewarm reaction from the drivers, in particular Lewis Hamilton who, having tested the proposed 2024 compound earlier this year, believed it was “dangerous” and “pointless” to ban the blankets.
Mario Isola, the head of Pirelli, has responded to this by saying that Hamilton tested the tyres in very cold temperatures and that the rubber he used was not the finished product.
“Lewis tested the tyres in Paul Ricard at the beginning of February,” Isola told media including PlanetF1.com. “It was quite cold in that period and clearly we tested some tyres that are not the final version of the tyres that we want to homologate without blankets.
“The idea to remove blankets is something that we discussed years ago and it is a common thought between the FIA, F1, teams, Pirelli and promoters to achieve carbon neutrality for 2030.
“Any step to make our sport more sustainable is important and one of these steps is to remove blankets, to avoid using electricity to warm up the tyre before we use it.
“We tested before the Christmas break some wet weather tyres, that was also our priority because last year, drivers were not happy about where they were on tyres. We found a new compound that is able to work without blankets.
“We made a comparison with the old tyre with blankets in cold conditions and in all the three different circuits with three different teams and, if I’m not wrong, the five different drivers, the comments were positive.
“So we are planning to remove the blankets from the wet weather tyre from Imola onwards. That has been authorised by the Formula 1 commission last Wednesday.
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“The next step is and I hope we are successful this year, is to find an intermediate tyres that is able to work without the blankets. At the same time we have a development plan for slick tyres.”
Isola went on to say that developing tyres that are usable without blankets is “a big technical challenge.”
“I just want to say that it is a technical challenge, a big technical challenge,” the Pirelli boss said. “We need the time to develop the tyres. We have a plan, we also have an agreement to analyse the data in July.”
Another point that Hamilton raised was that drivers would use more fuel in order to get the tyres up to the right temperature, something he suggested would negate any benefit of getting rid of the blankets. Isola accepted that but said it was a “balance.”
“If you need three, four or five laps to find the grip you use more fuel. This should be accounted for when making the calculation between removing blankets.
“The point is that it depends on how long the warm-up is because if it is three, four corners, you don’t use a lot more fuel. If you need three, four laps it is a different story.”
Additional reporting by Thomas Maher